Ak57\’s Weblog

Thoughts and opinions on Malaysian news, its people and its culture

Protests of the Racists

There have been a number of protests in the last couple of weeks, all driven by individuals with a racist agenda. This is one of my pet peeves so be prepared for a long post.

The Penang Protests

My apologies for the long excerpt, as Malaysiakini is not free I felt it was necessary to include as much as possible:

Some 1,000 Umno members and supporters staged a one-hour protest outside the Penang state government office in Komtar this afternoon over the New Economic Policy controversy.

The crowd – which gathered there after Friday prayers around 2.30pm – chanted slogans such as ‘Don’t sideline the Malays’ and ‘Don’t abolish NEP’.

The demonstration, led by Penang Umno secretary Azhar Ibrahim, to protest Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s declaration that the new DAP-led state government would do away with NEP.

Among those who spoke at the rally included former deputy chief minister Abdul Rashid Abdullah, Sungai Dua state assemblyperson Jasmin Mohamed and Umno Bukit Mertajam chief Musa Sheikh Fadzir.

There were about 3,000 onlookers as eight FRU trucks armed with water cannons were deployed and the crowd eventually dispersed after the police gave the protestors a five-minute ultimatum.

Organisers described the demonstration as a “protest by Penang Malays against the state government’s discrimination and marginalisation of the community”.

The demonstrators carried banners in Bahasa Malaysia with slogans such as “Jangan Pinggirkan Orang Melayu” (Don’t Marginalise the Malays), “Jangan Hapuskan Hak Orang Melayu” (Don’t Abolish Malay Rights) and “Jangan Hapuskan Dasar Ekonomi Baru” (Don’t Abolish the New Economic Policy).

They march along Jalan Ria service road that leads to Penang’s tallest building Komtar, where the Chief Minister’s office is located, shouting anti-government slogans and chanting “Allahu Akbar” and “Hidup Melayu”.

When the demonstrators approached Komtar, they were told by George Town OCPD ACP Azam Abdul Hamid to disperse within five minutes.

Four-point memorandum

Musa then explain to Azam that the protestors wanted to hand over a four-point memorandum to Lim, who was sworn into office four days ago.

But when Azam allowed a delegation from the group to do so, the leaders declined claiming that it was pointless to meet a chief minister who had made up his mind “to destroy the Malays”.

A number of Umno representatives will however hand over the memorandum to Penang Yang Dipertua Negeri Abdul Rahman Abbas in a weeks’ time.

“This is a Malay country, but Malays are marginalised in their own country,” said Ahmad, who also described PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim “as a traitor who had sold the Malays to Chinese and Indians”.

When asked whether it was premature to hold the protest as the state government was barely a weeks’ old, Ahmad said the Penang Malays were provoked by Lim’s anti-Malay statement.

It is learnt that the four-point memorandum included calling on the DAP-led state government to honour and fulfill its promises made in its electoral manifesto; stressing that Umno was still a relevant political party to Penang Malays, calling on the state government not abolish the NEP and marginalise the Malays and to safeguard Malay special privileges.

Although the demonstrators defied repeated orders from the police to disperse, no force was used against the crowd.

Shops in the area were closed for business and traffic was brought to a standstill during the protest.

However, no untoward incident was reported and the protestors as well as curious onlookers left the scene by 4pm.

The rally came hot in the heels of Prime Minister and Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s accusation that Lim was stoking racial tensions by his remark that he would abolish the NEP.

Immediate response from Guan Eng

In an immediate response, Lim expressed regret that the demonstrators were unwilling to accept the decision of voters in last Saturday’s general elections.

“The people had democratically elected a DAP-led state government but Umno could not take it,” he said, while thanking the police for keeping the situation under control.

However, he said it was Umno’s right to hold a demonstration to vent its anger so long the opposition party does not compromise public safety and security.

Lim also alleged that Umno had twisted the facts contained in his statement by claiming that the state government would abolish NEP.

“I only stated that the state government would do away with open tenders and contracts to eliminate corruption, nepotism and cronyism.

“Our tender awarding system will be fair and just to all,” he assured.

Unlike the previous Barisan Nasional state governments, he said the present state government was neither anti-Malay nor pro-non Malay.

“We are pro-Malaysians,” he told a packed news conference.

Anwar: What has Umno done?

Meanwhile, Anwar said the Umno-led demonstration was proof that the opposition party was a “sore and bad loser”. He added that Umno appeared unable to take defeat gracefully.

“They could not stomach it. The state government is not even one-week old, Umno already described it as anti-Malay and held a street protest,” he said.

Instead of protesting, he said Umno should look at its own achievements when it was in power for 50 years.

“Until now, Malays in Penang are still living in poverty. What the local Umno leaders have done about it while enriching themselves,” he said.

Azhar, who is state opposition leader designate and Penaga state assemblyperson, fired the parting shot at the end of today’s demonstration.

“This is only the beginning to bring down the state government. Our struggle will not be over until we re-capture control of the state government.”

– quoted from an article published in Malaysiakini on 14th March 2008 (link)

Sometimes I wonder whether UMNO top brass realise how childish and racist they sound. They asked to deliver a memorandum and after being allowed to, refuse and say it is pointless to meet a chief minister who had made up his mind “to destroy the Malays”.

Then you have this chap named Ahmad who says, “This is a Malay country, but Malays are marginalised in their own country”. I sincerely hope Ahmad is a 15 year old boy and not some high level UMNO Youth member.

I like that threat Azhar made saying that UMNO would bring down the state government.

Given this NEP backlash, it seems a good time for me to write my thoughts on the NEP. Suffice to say; if you champion NEP today you are championing racism.

There was to be another protest on the 20th of March, at this point in time I am uncertain of whether it went thru. It was nice of the police to threaten to use ISA to detain the organisers of this protest though 🙂 Yes, I am being sarcastic; I very much doubt the police would detain the UMNO Penang members. Related articles to that:

Malaysiakini: Penang rally, police warn ISA will be used (link)
NST: Rumour-mongers get ISA warning (link)

The Selangor Protests

Meanwhile, about 100 people believed to be Umno members and supporters held a protest march in Shah Alam against the new PKR-led Selangor government.

Marching from the Shah Alam state mosque to the state government building a couple of hundred meters away, they carried placards and banners denouncing PKR and its allegedly ‘anti-Malay’ allies, reported Chinese daily Sin Chew’s online portal.

Among the banners, one said: ‘New Selangor government: Puppets of DAP’. Another said ‘With the abolition of the NEP, Malays will be refugees on their own land’.
The groups dispersed after 10 minutes upon reaching the state government building where about 50 FRU and ordinary police personnel were on standby.

– quoted from an article published in Malaysiakini on 14th March 2008 (link)

This protest, like the one in Penang, was provoked by the threat of abolishment of the NEP. My thoughts on this are best summed up in the other post I just mentioned.

Selangor people were not just angry about NEP though. They also had an issue with the position of Deputy Menteri Besar and the composition of the State Exco:

In Selangor, a protest was held by several hundred people from the Coalition of Selangor Malays at Dataran Shah Alam against the PKR, DAP and PAS state government.

The protest led by Selangor Umno Youth leader Shukur Idrus started at 3pm and ended about an hour later.

They also handed over a memorandum to the Sultan, which was received by his private secretary Mohd Munir Bani who came to the scene.

Among others, the protesters urged newly minted Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim not to go against the wishes of the Sultan regarding the appointment of a deputy menteri besar.

They also called on the state government not to appoint a non-Malay deputy menteri besar and retain the exco composition at 60 percent Malays and 40 percent non-Malays.

– quoted from an article published by Malaysiakini on 19th March 2008 (link)

NST’s version of the same protest:

SHAH ALAM: Heavy rain washed out a demonstration by about 1,000 people, from 12 Malay non-governmental organisations, at Dataran Shah Alam, yesterday.

The demonstrators had gathered at 4pm to demand that Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim not appoint a deputy menteri besar, or if he did, to appoint a Malay.

They also want Khalid to ensure that 60 per cent of the executive council is made up of Malay representatives.

– quoted from an article published by NST on 20th March 2008 (link)

Frankly speaking, I feel that Teresa Kok should be the deputy MB and the racial composition of the executive council is completely irrelevant. Not just for her long years of service, but (for those who care) also a symbolic gesture as it is representative of the large Chinese population that Selangor has.

I often hear Selangor being described as having a mostly well educated population. Yet the request not to appoint a deputy or at least if so, make it a Malay? What kind of strange wording that is; people who make this demand would probably only be happy if the Exco, the MB and his deputy were 100% Malay.

Still, I feel a need to be fair to the racists. So lets go thru some math shall we? Here’s a recap of Selangor State Seat composition (out of 36 Opposition seats):

  • 15 PKR (42%)
  • 13 DAP (36%)
  • 8 PAS (22%)

PKR candidates are not all Malay and I don’t think any of the DAP candidates are Malay, so where does this reasoning of enforcing 60% Malays in the Exco come from? I got the impression that the past composition was like that, but that was a BN government, so it is not relevant. It only makes sense if you lump PKR and PAS together and (wrongly) assume they are all Malays, even then the position of Chief Minister already taken by PKR should be taken into account.

Maybe the racist reasoning comes from population statistics for Selangor as a whole? I summed up the racial percentage statistics for Malay voters in Selangor, and the figure came to approximately 53%. Sorry racists, mathematics couldn’t help justify your actions. The complete racial breakdown statistics should be in the 9th Malaysia Plan, if you are interested in pursuing this research further.

So in summary, the protests have been focused on the abolishment of the NEP and the racial composition of state government top brass. Are there more racist protests to come? Only time will tell.


Written by ak57

March 20, 2008 at 8:56 pm

%d bloggers like this: